Saudi ministries have been given three years to fire all of their expatriate workers, local media reported on Wednesday, in the latest clampdown against foreign labour in the kingdom.
It comes as part of the kingdom's ambitious national transformation programme
for 2020, which will see government positions filled by Saudis and a massively reduced public sector.
Heads of government departments were reportedly told by the ministry of civil service this week that only Saudi nationals would be able to work in public sector jobs by the end of 2020.
There was no clarification about whether this includes workers in public schools and hospitals, or in government-owned oil giant Aramco
."There will be no expatriate workers in the government after 2020," Abdullah al-Melfi, deputy minister for civil service, instructed ministry officials during a meeting.
"The complete nationalisation of government jobs is an important objective of the national transformation programme 2020 and the kingdom's Vision 2030," Melfi added.
The workshop concentrated on the kingdom's national transformation programme for 2020, according to Saudi Gazette
It means that ministries will be forced to sack 70,000 foreign workers over the next three years and make room for Saudi nationals.
Saudi Arabia is also pursuing an aggressive diversification plan known as Vision 2030
, which looks at massively expanding the private sector.
Continued low oil prices
have put pressure on the public sector to cut jobs with foreigners the obvious target.
The government believes the job cuts will reduce capital outflows and create new positions for the some 700,000 Saudis looking for work.
This should also limit the impact of a streamlined government on nationals.
Around 66 percent of Saudis currently work for the government and Riyadh wants to see this figure cut to 50 percent by 2020.
Riyadh also announced on Wednesday that surgeries would not be able to hire any foreign dentists to make way for Saudis.